LEC students take part in annual Mathematical Mini-Con


On Friday, April 21, 2017, Lake Erie College students Caleb Vahcic and Vincent Horning took part in the Mathematical “Mini-Con,” an annual spring event presented by Lake Erie College and Lakeland Community College. Held at Lakeland this year, the event featured six students from the host institutions who discussed their various research projects based in mathematics.

Under the guidance of Professor Betty Clifford as their advisor, Vahcic and Horning presented independent research projects they had completed over the course of their senior year. Both students were veterans of the conference, Vahcic having presented at the event the prior two years and Horning returning for his second appearance.

Vahcic, whose prior research presentations covered areas of mathematics ranging from linear to abstract algebra, returned to present his senior colloquium project, “High-end Solutions to Low Scale Problems: An Analytical Approach.” For this project, Vahcic was concerned with how individuals may approach difficult obstacles that arise when brainstorming and creating pro-forma financial statements using limited resources.

More specifically, he wondered what smaller businesses can do to create professional and useful presentations of data. Though admitting this may not seem like an inherently mathematical dilemma, Vahcic discussed how analytical skills, basic concepts of accounting, thinking like a business owner, and having a general understanding of Excel can be used to tackle problems that companies may face while utilizing a mathematical mindset.

“Caleb has such a rich and growing understanding of how mathematics and accounting merge together,” said Clifford, assistant professor of mathematics & education at LEC. “I enjoyed working with him as he blended his two interests.”

In regard to his participation all three years, Vahcic describes his experience as overwhelmingly positive.

“Not only does this conference provide a place for mathematicians to share their research, but frequently it generates great group discussions and allows students to practice their presenting skills,” he said. “In mathematics, there isn’t much ground that can’t be covered. Presentations have ranged from assessments of NBA players to financial statements to rotating 3-D objects. The Mini-Cons are a great collaborative effort with Lakeland Community College and I hope they persist down the road.”

Horning, also a senior at LEC, presented “The Greatness Rating,” a project he developed to assess who is the greatest NBA player of all time. Specifically, Horning presented a formula to summarize a player’s entire career with a single number, termed “The Greatness Rating.” He developed this system based on career stats and accolades of over 100 (all-time) players.

“Vince was able to take his interest in ranking athletes and, using statistics and numerical methods, apply mathematics to it. He began this project last summer and continued to improve the methods of ranking using math to create unbiased results,” said Clifford. “He brings such energy and enjoyment to mathematics.”

Professor Clifford notes that working with both students was a rewarding experience. “Caleb and Vince will be missed but we are so very excited to see where they will go and what they will do after graduation in May,” she said.

All of us at Lake Erie College are incredibly proud of Vahcic and Horning and their achievements. For more information on their research, contact Professor Clifford at bclifford@lec.edu.

Dr. Tabrina Smith, associate professor of mathematics, served as a co-organizer for this event. For information on next year’s Mathematical Mini-Con to be held on LEC’s campus, contact Dr. Smith at tsmith@lec.edu.

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